China car sales plunged 92 percent during the first two weeks of February as the coronavirus outbreak kept buyers away from showrooms.
It was even worse in the first week, when nationwide sales tumbled 96 percent to a daily average of only 811 units, the China Passenger Car Association said in a report released earlier this week. Deliveries this month may slide by about 70 percent, resulting in a roughly 40 percent drop in the first two months of 2020, the association said. The figures exclude minivans.
“There was barely anybody at car dealers in the first week of February as most people stayed at home,” PCA Secretary General Cui Dongshu wrote in the report. Dealers gradually restarted operations in the second week of February, when daily sales of passenger cars stood at 4,098 units, still a decline of 89 percent from a year earlier, he said.
The situation is expected to improve in the third week of February, Cui said in an interview Friday.
The numbers underscore the extent by which sales have been affected in the world’s largest market for automobiles. Even before the outbreak, auto sales in China were heading for an unprecedented third straight annual decline because of a slowing economy and trade tensions with the US.
China’s commerce ministry said Thursday it will work with other government departments on more measures to stabilize auto sales and reduce the impact of the epidemic on demand. Separately, Chinese policy makers have been discussing extending subsidies for electric-vehicle purchases beyond this year to revive sales, people familiar with the matter have said.